Hanson-Young pushes ahead with defamation case against Leyonhjelm

The Greens senator will sue Senator Leyonhjelm after her libertarian rival refused to apologise for a series of comments casting aspersions on her personal life

Lawyers acting for Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young have launched defamation proceedings against Senator David Leyonhjelm, kicking off a highly unusual civil dispute between two elected rivals.

The legal action was launched a month after Senator Leyonhjelm told the Greens senator to “stop shagging men” on the floor of the Senate and made further comments about her personal relationships in subsequent TV interviews.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was among a chorus of voices from across the political spectrum who called on the outspoken libertarian to apologise – but Senator Leyonhjelm responded by doubling down and calling the prime minister a “pussy”.

The proceedings were brought in the federal court, where Senator Hanson-Young’s team will argue Senator Leyonhjelm damaged her reputation by implying she is a “slut” who “hates men”, according to court documents.

"It was always my preference that Senator Leyonhjelm apologise and acknowledge how hurtful, defamatory and damaging his comments were, however he refuses to do so,” Senator Hanson-Young said.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young launched a crowdfunding campaign to help cover the legal costs in her defamation action against fellow senator David Leyonhjel
Source: AAP

“While the Federal Court cannot compel Senator Leyonhjelm to apologise, it does have the power to award damages in my favour which I pledge to donate to two very worth organisations - Plan International and the Working Women's Centre SA.”

Senator Leyonhjelm has defended his comments by saying robust language was a normal part of Australian life.

He said his comments were “just abuse, not sexist abuse”.

Both senators have reached out to their supporters to crowdfund their legal bills.

Senator Hanson-Young says any leftover money will be donated to charities, as will her winnings if she is awarded damages.

Senator Leyonhjelm would use any remainder as election campaign funding, according to his GoFundMe page.

Published 2 August 2018 at 10:32am, updated 2 August 2018 at 12:27pm
By James Elton-Pym